Pineapple upside down cake is an important part of my adult home, too. In fact, it is the reason I have an adult home! Mama taught me how to make her one-egg yellow cake when I was about 12 years old. For the upside down cake, we substituted the milk ingredient with juice from the can of pineapple. Our upside down cakes were delicious.
Many years later, when Joe and I were dating I made a Pineapple Upside Down cake for him. I took it to his house, warm from the oven, in the cast iron skillet that had been used for this purpose for 30 years. I turned it out for him, and I could immediately tell it was one of his favorites! I cut a piece for him and we went to the tv room so he could become totally engrossed in a football game. He hardly said a word to me other than to thank me for the cake and tell me how good it was.
He made me mad, so I took my cake and went back home. A couple hours later he called me to see where I had put his cake! I had made my point. We married a few months later and for our lifetime together, I was never replaced by a football game again! He enjoyed many Pineapple Upside Down cakes!
Pineapple was originally from Brazil and Paraguay but by the time European explorers arrived, it had spread all over South America and into Mexico and the West Indies. The Spanish named the fruit because it resembled a pinecone, but because it was fruit, the two words pine and apple were combined. Some believe that Columbus actually named it.
One of Jamestown’s original settlers attempted to cultivate pineapple. The climate was right. However, the shape of the pineapple had already become one of the most prevalent symbols of hospitality in England. Planters, finials and bed posts portrayed pineapples. Stone, wood and porcelain pineapples were everywhere in England, so as America grew, the symbol was commonplace. It wasn’t until cargo ships coming from the Caribbean frequented the eastern seaboard that actual pineapples were a part of the diet in early America.
In 1790, Captain James Cook introduced the pineapple in Hawaii. During the 19th Century the fruit was still very uncommon to Americans. It was being grown in Florida at the time, but finally in the 1880s it was heavily cultivated in Hawaii and steamships carried it to our west coast. In 1903, James Dole began canning pineapple in Hawaii and soon after, it had become a major industry.
Food historians know that Pineapple Upside Down cake appeared in the first half of the 20th Century. But when? There is a Seattle fundraising cookbook from the 1920s that includes a recipe. Ladies’ magazines from the same decade include recipes for the cake. Dole Pineapple invited women to submit recipes using pineapple and 2,500 recipes for upside down cakes were sent in.
In my favorite vintage period, Americans started visiting Hawaii. Vacationers came back home and recreated luaus and made all kinds of foods using pineapple. The famous cake emerged as one of the most popular recipes.
Now it is time for the truth. I make lots of Pineapple Upside Down cakes, but I no longer bake the cake from scratch. Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines both make a delicious box mix. The trick to a delicious cake is to replace the water in the box instructions with pineapple juice from the can.
If you don’t bake your cake in a cast iron skillet, it is best to use a ceramic or glass casserole dish. You can bake in a 13 x 9 inch dish, but I use an extra heavy weight jelly roll pan that is 15 x 10 inches. I like a thin cake … the cake is about the same thickness as the pineapple and the brown sugar topping. When the cake is done baking, let it cool for 30 minutes before turning it out. The trick to a perfect turn, is to make sure the edges of the cake are loosened from the side of the pan/dish … then place your platter or tray right over the pan … put one hand on the bottom of the baking pan and one hand on the top (holding the tray tightly against the pan) and invert!
Another trick to ‘delicious’ is to pour a stick of melted butter in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle 1 ½ to 2 cups of dark brown sugar evenly over the butter. Lay the rings of pineapple and maraschino cherries on top of the butter/brown sugar. Gently pour the cake batter into the dish and make sure it covers everything, too.
Bake according to the package directions.
This cake is a triple batch! One of two baked for a dinner event for 50 people! It took 3 people to turn it over!
This post is a part of my 2020 Vintage Vegetables project. It is considered ‘other stuff’, of course! If you’d like to see similar posts, just click the menu tab. I’ll also be sharing with a couple blog parties, so check out my sidebar to see my party list.